South African Airways has announced that it will launch four new routes. The airline will start offering flights to Blantyre’s Chileka International Airport (BLZ) and Lilongwe’s Kamuzu International Airport (LLW) in Malawi. It will also offer flights to Windhoek Hosea Kutako International Airport (WDH) in Namibia and Victoria Falls Airport (VFA) in Zimbabwe. These routes are set to open ahead of the holiday season which begins in December.
The additional routes were announced on November 2, along with the announcement that several routes currently operated by the airline will receive additional flight frequency. South African Airways will increase the number of weekly flights to Cape Town, Accra, Harare, Durban, Lusaka, Kinshasa and Mauritius. The increased flight frequencies and additional routes are part of the airline’s pandemic recovery plan. They represent the second phase of the airline’s “Post-COVID Restart Operation,” which began more than a year ago.
Photo: Vincenzo Pace | single flight
Executives of the airline have stated that this new expansion shows that the company is advancing in its recovery plans. South African Airways CEO and Executive Chairman John Lamola shared how the airline is vital to the South African economy. He went on to state that the new routes would greatly benefit that economy. Lamola stated,
“SAA, as a thriving national airline, has an important enabling role in the South African economy. Those routes and frequencies that are not part of SAA’s medium-term plans will be progressively handed over to the Council for the benefit of the industry.”
Right to routes
According to the International Air Services Council (IASC), the airline retains all of its historic route traffic rights after voluntarily terminating several routes. The right to fly the routes it does not currently operate will allow the airline to reopen these services in the coming years. In 2023, it plans to relaunch services to several regional routes that it provided before the pandemic. It is also looking to launch its first post-reboot intercontinental route in early 2023.
Photo: Getty Images
Since South African Airways restarted operations more than a year ago, it has struggled to maintain current operations. At the end of September, the airline lost the rights to 20 international destinations. The airline had not served these destinations since March 2020. The IASC determined that the airline was not in a position to serve these routes. The decision to revoke the airline’s 20 international licenses has opened the door for other airlines to attend to this demand. This left the South African airline with only 32 international destinations it could serve and a significant gap in the African international air traffic market.
The recent announcement that the IASC re-granted the airline’s rights to these routes came after lengthy discussion between the parties. South African Airways argued that the routes were left without service due to lack of funding during the pandemic and company restructuring. It told the IASC that, in accordance with its recovery plans, it would soon restart many of these routes as it rebuilds its international network.
What do you think of these new routes? Let us know in the comments below.
South African Airways
- IATA/ICAO code:
- Airline type:
- Full service carrier
- Johannesburg airport
- Foundation year:
- star alliance
- Thomas Kgokolo
- South Africa